Prince Harry walks with his best man, the Duke of Cambridge, as he arrives at St George’s Chapel
06 October 2020

Royal brothers began to drift apart years before Meghan arrived, book claims

A serious rift developed between William and Harry when the younger brother was pictured in a Nazi costume, according to a new book.

The siblings went to Maud’s Cotswold Costumes in January 2005 and chose an animal outfit for William and, for Harry, a khaki-coloured uniform, in which the young duke was photographed while displaying an armband with a swastika.

The response to the incident prompted Harry to reconsider his older brother’s involvement and the differing treatments of the pair, noted royal biographer Robert Lacey claims in Battle of Brothers, which is being serialised in the Daily Mail.

The book says Harry began to feel alienated from his family following the costume party incident, with a former aide saying of the brothers: “For the first time, their relationship really suffered and they barely spoke. Harry resented the fact that William got away so lightly.”

Mr Lacey also claims the boys’ nanny Barbara Barnes acted as a surrogate mother due to Diana’s health concerns and humanitarian commitments, with Ms Barnes teaching them to walk, talk and read.

She was later dismissed without being allowed to say farewell to the young princes.

Commonwealth Day 2020 (PA Archive)

Mr Lacey wrote: “Following the death of Diana in 1997, people remarked on how well the two young princes reacted to the unjust and unexpected removal of a mother figure from their lives – surprised, bewildered and distraught though they were.

“In fact, ten years earlier, they’d had a little practice.”

The book also alleges:

– The Queen felt the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were “erratic and impulsive” in making their departure;

– the Royal Family were “hopping mad” over Harry and Meghan’s trademarking of Sussex Royal products and services, which was viewed as a “commercialising of the crown”;

– the Queen, Charles and William were not consulted over the multiple legal actions taken by the couple against the media;

– a “powerful constituency” within the family felt Meghan’s interview with ITV’s Tom Bradby during last year’s tour of Africa, in which she bemoaned her life, showed a “bizarre tone deafness” and was “miserably self-indulgent”.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox